The Diocesan Shrine and Parish of St. Mary Magdalene in Pililla, Rizal, announced this week that it received the title of “affiliate church” of the Minor Basilica and Parish of St. Mary Magdalene in the town of Saint-Maximin-la-Ste-Baume, a commune in the southeastern French department of Var, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region.
It is the first church in the Philippines to receive such recognition from the French basilica.
Father Alfredo Meneses Jr., Pililla shrine rector, said the “Declaration of Support and Recognition as an Affiliate Church” was signed by him and Basilica Rector Père Florian Racine last July 22, Feast of St. Mary Magdalene.
“We are glad to receive this gracious blessing as the shrine of Pililla strives to promote the devotion to St. Mary Magdalene not only in the Diocese of Antipolo but also in different places in the Philippines,” said the priest.
Through the agreement, the two places of pilgrimage “hold a spiritual connection through our united effort to continue to promote the Apostle to the Apostles.”
The minor basilica in France was built in Saint-Maximin-la-Ste-Baume town in the 13th century and was first entrusted to the Dominicans. It is considered a primary shrine of the patroness visited by pilgrims throughout the world.
The shrine currently keeps what are believed to be the remains of the saint, especially her skull, which is brought to procession in the town during her feast day on July 22. The church is currently under the Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon.
The shrine in Pililla, Rizal, was founded by the Franciscans in 1583 and is one of the most visited heritage churches in the province.
It was declared as a shrine by the Diocese of Antipolo in 2018 and will celebrate its 440th anniversary as a parish and fifth anniversary as a shrine in 2023.